Future people may be the easiest to help
Helping future people could be high impact because a tiny change in today's cultural norms or values, the environment, or existential risk could have huge consequences over the possible millions of future human generations.
The scale of how we could help future people completely dominates the scale of people we could help right now.
The welfare of future people is highly neglected since Future people are disenfranchised. We almost never take their needs or desires into account, and they have no vote and no voice.
The same could go for animals, and possibly even wild animals.
- Future people matter morally
- There are (in expectation) vast numbers of future people
- Future people are utterly disenfranchised
- There are ways to positively impact the very long run
But the possibility of preventable existential risks in our lifetimes shows that there are issues where our actions can have sustained positive effects over the whole longterm future, and where we are the only generation in a position to produce those effects.
And they smiled, telling me that this wasn’t how it worked—that one doesn’t repay one’s parents. One passes it on.
On this view, our duties to future generations may thus be grounded in the work our ancestors did for us when we were future generations.
What we owe the future - Will MacAskill